Sister’s Meghan book reveals sad truth
There is a certain perverse irony to the fact that for a family with such a considerable anti-intellectual pedigree, books have played such a pivotal role in some of their most damaging chapters. (Prince Charles will be the first ever monarch to sit on the throne who has a university degree, making you wonder what sort of qualifications the previous 61 sovereigns had to rule over an empire.)
All the way back in 1950, when the Queen's beloved longtime nanny Marion 'Crawfie' Crawford published The Little Princesses the palace tell-all has been a sword of Damocles hanging over royal life. Time and again biographies about the house of Windsor and its myriad occupants, their peccadillos and their inability to quite get the hang of monogamy have exposed the family to scandal.
To this day, Andrew Morton's Diana: Her True Story, which came out in 1992, is the gold standard when it comes to a palace-shaking page-turner, which revealed the princess' eating disorder, the gruesome reality of her marriage and her suicide attempts. Its publication was a seismic event, the reverberations of which could be felt for years (if not decades).
(Coming second would be a tie between Jonathan Dimbleby's The Prince Of Wales which revealed that Prince Charles had felt forced into marriage by his father and Tina Brown's The Diana Chronicles which said their sex life was a "roll on, roll off" situation and that Charles "had difficulty locating [his wife's] erogenous zones.")
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Last year saw a steady stream of books churned out about Harry and Meghan and the tumultuous period leading up to their exit from royal life. And on Friday, US time, the next bombshell is set to land with the arrival of The Diary Of Princess Pushy's Sister Part 1 written by Meghan's estranged half-sister Samantha Markle. (It takes a particular sort of moxie slash hubris to assume there will be an appetite for parts two and beyond.)
It's an opus long in the making with news of the title first breaking four years ago.
It seems highly unlikely that it will be a touching filial tribute given that Markle has firmly nailed her colours to the anti-Meghan mast, having previously called her sister "shallow," a "social climber," and a "wealthy narcissist".
Samantha, 56, told The Sun this week that her book "deals with my life and my perspective on several issues in the road as they intersect with this royal event in history".
"There was an awful lot going on as this royal fairytale fell off the tea towels.
"There was a lot going on behind closed doors that the world didn't know."
She said: "The royal family will like it and will enjoy it and nothing they should be uncomfortable with. I hope they find it warm, funny, honest and heartfelt. I wrote it respectfully knowing they would see it."
(Though the notion of the Queen reading aloud from Diary to her dorgis beggars belief.)
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Publisher Barnes & Noble is spruiking the book saying: "Amidst a firestorm of fake news and media mayhem, Samantha Markle shares the truth about her life and family against all odds and ultimatums … Sometimes the truth really is stranger than fiction."
Whatever this 'truth' is, it is likely to go down about as well as a militant pleather-clad vegan pitching up for a Sandringham pheasant shoot.
Since news first broke in October 2016 that the pair were dating, Meghan's paternal relatives have proven to be a perennial thorn in her side, seemingly willing to skewer her whenever a microphone or a chequebook was waved in their face.
Most notable is her father Thomas who it was dramatically revealed, only days before he was set to fly to the UK in 2018 to walk her down the aisle, had been staging photos with a paparazzi agency.
Since then the now 76-year-old has regularly vented his spleen in the press, charmingly telling a TV doco of his daughter and son-in-law, "They owe me. The royals owe me, Harry owes me, Meghan owes me. What I've been through, I should be rewarded for."
Whatever your thoughts might be on the judiciousness of Megxit, it is impossible not to feel for the 39-year-old Duchess as she has suffered through this one-sided war of words for years on end now.
No matter what supposed wrongs Samantha wheels out in Diary, this release is just the sort of tabloid hullabaloo the Sussexes could do without right now. As 2021 gets going, and as they work to cement their stateside brand via their charitable and commercial projects, they might be about to find themselves dragged back into tawdry family melodrama.
The same goes for the palace. Harry and Megan might officially no longer be representatives of the Queen but their identity is still intrinsically linked to their royal status. It's doubtful Her Majesty is relishing having her family plunged back into another chapter of this unseemly soap opera.
(Part of me wonders why, when Harry and Megan got engaged, some courtier was not dispatched with a series of blank Coutts cheques for ready distribution to the Markles in exchange for the perpetual silence. The palace has learnt the hard way that a peeved relative with both an axe to grind and the British tabloids on speed dial is a dangerous thing indeed.)
The publication of Diary comes days before Meghan's lawsuit against the Daily Mail for allegedly breaching her privacy by publishing parts of a letter which she had sent Thomas (and he had supplied to the paper) returns to court. On Monday, UK time, a judge will decide whether to grant her legal team's request for a summary judgment to be handed down, thereby averting a courtroom showdown later in the year.
If the summary judgment is denied, the case dubbed 'Markle vs Markle' will be heard in October or November this year, with a senior royal source telling the Times "a trial would be traumatic for Meghan and Harry, it will expose palace operations, members of staff would be dragged into it on the witness stands … it would be deeply uncomfortable for the institution."
We might have finally left 2020 behind us, but for Meghan, the new year means just more of the same old family drama.
Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with more than 15 years experience working with a number of Australia's leading media titles.
Originally published as Sister's Meghan book reveals sad truth